North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D), who is trailing her GOP challenger, Rep. Kevin Cramer, in the contentious fight for her Senate seat, revealed to CNN Monday why she ultimately decided to vote against Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court.
And in an unusual move of transparency, Heitkamp also admitted that she was supportive of Kavanaugh’s nomination until a turning point on Sept. 27, the day Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
What did Heitkamp say?
In a feature story that followed Kavanaugh’s public swearing in ceremony at the White House on Monday, Heitkamp explained just how close she was to voting for Kavanaugh.
“I had the office begin to prepare a statement saying that I was voting for him,” she said.
But it was Kavanaugh’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last month, in which he vehemently denied sexual assault allegations and defended his reputation, that changed everything for Heitkamp.
In fact, it was after Heitkamp watched Kavanaugh’s testimony again — this time with the sound off — that she decided she would not vote to confirm him. Her decision stemmed from Kavanuagh’s outward temperament.
"We communicate not only with words, but we communicate with body language, we communicate demeanor,” Heitkamp told CNN.
"I saw somebody who was very angry, very nervous, and I saw rage that a lot of people said, 'Well, of course you're going to see rage he's being falsely accused,' but it is at all times you're to acquit yourself with a demeanor that's becoming of the court,” she explained.
According to CNN, the straw that broke the camel’s back for Heitkamp was when Kavanaugh questioned Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) about her drinking history after she grilled him about his.
"When someone shows you who they are, believe them,” Heitkamp said.
How did Cramer respond?
Cramer, who enjoys a substantial lead in the polls, told CNN he was surprised by Heitkamp's decision because he "fully expected" Heitkamp to vote "yes" on Kavanaugh. After all, she was one of three Democrats who voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch last year.
"She had been building her entire campaign, really her entire brand, as the bipartisan senator from North Dakota," he told CNN.